In this ‘Day in the Life of a Commercial Real Estate Professional’ post, we hear from Robert Lathan, a Senior Associate in Investments & Portfolio Management, working at MacFarlane Partners, a REPE Firm in California where he has been located for the last year. Robert has been kind enough to share what he does on a daily basis as well as discuss what it takes to land a similar position in CRE.

This is one in a growing series of ‘Day in the Life of a Commercial Real Estate Professional’ entries. Read this post, then check out other experiences shared by A.CRE readers.

Day in the Life of a Senior Associate – Investments & Portfolio Management

Robert Lathan

MacFarlane Partners can be defined as a light armor warrior in the vain of Achilles from the The Iliad. We are a PERE Firm that is small yet Big, meaning we have a small headcount where there are 6 of us involved in the real estate efforts of the firm with a total headcount of 20.

MacFarlane participates in the full cycle of the real estate business, acting as a pseudo hybrid GP and LP of urban core Transit Oriented Development in the US Gateway markets (NYC, San Francisco-Bay Area, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Seattle). Focusing on the markets with high barriers to entry allows us to do Big transformative mixed-use projects where we can take advantage of volatility through various cashflows.

With this as the foundation of our platform, the roles I perform are various, and can be best explained as acting as an investment banker focused in real estate. These duties involve underwriting potential deals (development, preferred equity, and structured finance), asset management, due diligence of active projects, developing pitch books for institutional equity partners, market research, and participating in the negotiation of term sheets.


About the Professional

Name: Robert Barry Lathan
Location: California
Years in Real Estate: 10
Years in Current Position: 1
Undergraduate Education: Engineering – Product Design, Stanford University
Graduate Education: MPS Real Estate, Cornell University
Approx. Annual Income: Prefer not to say

About the Position

Job Title: Senior Associate – Investments & Portfolio Management
Job Type: Acquisitions,Appraisal/Valuation,Asset Management,Capital Raising,Development,Finance,Investment Banking,Investor Relations,Portfolio Management
Company Name: MacFarlane Partners
Company Type: REPE Firm
Property Type: Multifamily, Mixed Use
Min. Education Recommended: Masters Degree
Min. Education Required: Masters Degree
Min. Experience Recommended: 3 – 5
Min. Experience Required: 3 – 5
Advanced Technical Skills Required: MS Excel,Argus,Yardi,Costar,MS PowerPoint,MS Project,Other


Advice for those interested in this position

You must first determine what is most important for your career at the point you are seeking employment. Without this as the genesis, one cannot find the right environment to accomplish their goals. The crucial factor for me post graduating Cornell’s Baker Program in Real Estate was to find an organization where my foundational skills would be exponentially grown through the coaching of senior members of the firm. As a former Division 1 athlete in football at Stanford, great coaching and development will always be how I grade firms. Are the senior individuals good at coaching the proverbial blocking and tackling? Can they build on the simple plays to make complex ones that yield multiple points? If not, then the firm would not build my career as how I envisioned. The vision for my career was to have daily interactions with these co-ordinators/coaches who would assist in launching my career. It would provide me the opportunity to hear and see how they both value and develop real estate based on their successful past.

Additionally, roles at smaller firms can be a much longer process because it is all about fit. Not only does the work of the firm have to fit your goals, but you have to fit into the culture of the firm. After ascertaining the factors that will grow your career the most, you should focus on finding a firm whose culture matches your own. Culture symbiosis will insure that you are with people who will be invested in your growth like you are invested in the growth of the profitability of the firm.